Contingent workforce management has grown up. I saw seasoned professionals striding confidently exchanging ideas and chatting about trends at our 7th annual Contingent Workforce Management Summit held in Las Vegas earlier this month. They are the new mavens. We have come a long way from the days when CWM was an emerging field. The pioneers of yesteryears are today’s managers on the cutting edge of the workforce of the future, as Robert Reich pointed out in his keynote address.
There was a different attitude in the air this year. Many of these professionals were carrying business cards with “CW” in their titles. And it’s irrelevant that you may have to explain what CW is to some people. What is relevant is those who matter get it, said many conference participants. The recession has taught corporate America the value of a temporary workforce. Savings coupled with the flexibility that these workers bring is unparalleled. Organizations are using temps in different ways and seeing the benefits. “We have gone through the rigors. Now we are looking at how we can help ourselves and legitimize what we are doing,” said a CW manager at a large Fortune 500 corporation.
Her sentiment was echoed by many of the Summit’s 700 participants — Staffing Industry Analysts’ biggest conference yet. The talk was around mature programs involving more than a billion dollars in spend, SOWs, metrics, RPO, MSPs, VMS. And yes, some of it may have been gobbledygook to the newbies who came, but there were enough seasoned veterans to show the way or direct them to others who could help.
A few years ago, SIA President Barry Asinwrote about one of our early Summits, describing it as life among the pioneers. That was then. This year’s event was colonized by civilized folks from procurement and HR with a few other disciplines thrown in. Welcome to CW generation 3.0. They rely on stylish, sophisticated tools to map talent acquisition strategically for their organizations saving more than a few bucks in the process. And to help these folks and others entering the discipline, we are developing a training certification program for CW managers. After all, even grown-ups could use a little bit of help.